The Flat River Watershed 

The Flat River is a designated Natural River which flows through Montcalm, Ionia, and Kent counties. The entire system contains 147.8 miles of stream. The main stream, which originates in Six Lakes, extends 70 miles south, flowing through Greenville and Belding before reaching the Grand River in Lowell.


The Flat River Watershed drains approximate 564 square miles of land. Over half of this land is used for agriculture and over 40% is made up of a combination of forests, wetlands and open water. The Flat River also supports many recreational opportunities including paddling and Smallmouth bass fishing. 

Recreation Opportunities

There are many things to do and ways to experience the natural beauty of the Flat River Watershed. 

Recreational opportunities include:

  • Canoeing and kayaking 

  • Smallmouth bass fishing

  • Birding

  • Hiking 

  • Biking 

Pollution in the Flat River

Recent testing has found high levels of E. coli in the Flat River. E. coli is a bacteria often associated with animal waste and indicates the presence of other disease-causing organisms in the water. Some strains of E. coli can cause illnesses including gastroenteritis, also known as the stomach flu.


The E. coli in the Flat River comes from two sources: 

  • Human waste from improperly maintained septic systems

  • Animal waste from agricultural sources. 

What Can I Do?
  • Make sure your septic system is well maintained. Have your system pumped every 2-5 years. 

  • Pick up and properly dispose of pet waste. 

  • Block erosion from leaving your property. If you're a farmer or landowner, contact NRCS to learn how to prevent soil erosion. 

The Flat River Watershed Council was created to protect, enhance and maintain land and water quality and other natural resources in the Flat River Watershed. It was founded in 2011 by a group of people who like to recreate on and along the Flat River and wanted to ensure that this resource would be enjoyed by future generations. The Flat River Watershed Council was responsible for creating the first Watershed Management Plan for the Flat River. They also partner with the Montcalm Conservation District to put on educational events, stream sampling, and river cleanups.

The Council meets every third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public. Please check their website for meeting locations.

Montcalm Conservation District

77 South State Street

 Stanton, MI 48888

Office Hours:

Monday - Friday, 8:00am - 4:30pm


(989) 831-4212